Quantum Moss – Campus Art Installation

Quantum Moss Campus Art Installation

Quantum Moss is a slow biological, dynamical process art piece that visually embodies quantum physics phenomena. 

Quantum Moss (QMoss) is a multidisciplinary contemporary art project that communicates Quantum phenomenon through a tangible and concrete media of wooden installation that starts growing moss as time passes. QMoss, made by Noora Archer and Laura Piispanen of Kiedos.Art, connects quantum physics to the famous architectural surroundings of Aalto University campus through a biological media that brings a natural and organic way to communicate quantum physics. Greenery is proven to bring joy and relaxation into constructed environments, but QMoss aims to be much more than that, by adding an element of awe and discovery to the campus, with visualizing the unseen quantum world. The third aspect of QMoss is being almost fully recyclable, natural and biodegradable to point towards a new way of creating sustainable constructed world.

What is the “Quantum” that the audience sees in QMoss?

Quantum Moss Autumn 2022. Photos by Mikko Raskinen, Aalto University and Hongfei Bi.

On the surface, QMoss is a set of large, wooden panels with a rippling pattern forming into interesting set of cavities and edges. In front of it a seat with similar patterns invites the visitor to sit down and relax. With careful inspection the pattern constructed into five layers is not just randomness, but in fact almost symmetric from midpoint. Almost as if an invisible force would have pressed against the layers, carved jagged patterns layer by layer until finally piercing small holes through the center of the final fifth layer and escaping. Someone looking at the art from the other side could never guess that behind those small holes a whole cave with varying patterns exists. What the audience sees is in fact a detailed map of what probability looks like on a subatomic level. The holes in the back panel are the peak points of this probability. In such a small scale even what is tangible depends on how probable it is. The caving pattern that forms the five layers of QMoss stems from the most fundamental, real but extremely small quantum phenomena, such as quantum entanglement, quantum interference, quantum decoherence and quantum uncertainty. On such a small level of being it would be impossible to see anything without mathematical simulation. Visualizing the science of quantum with simulation makes the invisible understandable.

Quantum physics describe and explains the counterintuitive phenomena happening at the sub-atomic level. At size scales of atoms, electrons and small molecules not all the phenomena can be explained using classical physics, or common sense even. Laura Piispanen describes this:

The meandering, largely symmetrical pattern of QMoss tells how the “position” of a particle behaving like a wave would vary along a vertical, defined axis. The deepest points in the form represent the peak points of the probability distribution at different moments in time.


As an installation, QMoss rises into existence but starts decaying immediately, naturally affected by the nature around it. Before its decay, the moss and plants that will grow on the installation will subtract carbon monoxide from the air, and further enhance the atmosphere at the campus. Due to its considerably vast surface area, moss is possibly the most efficient air cleansing and oxygenating plant, that millions of years ago helped to create the oxygen rich world we breathe now (1). Moss is actually proven to be particularly good for cleansing air from pollutants and at absorbing nitrogen, notes United Nations environment program (2). As the natural lifecycle of the installation advances, other lifeforms can use it for shelter, nesting material and living space. In the end of its lifecycle, approximately 10 years from here, QMoss pergola has offered a resting place for weary campus dwellers from humans to insects and other microscopic life. Once it’s structure is weakened, it will come to its life’s end and disappear in the cohesion and noise of the reality around us.


Natural Moss growth at the Aalto University Campus area.

In our view, QMoss offers an organic way to look at both the seen and unseen world around us and encourages us to learn and listen to the unseen around us. As we are now on the verge of a second quantum technological revolution that has already brought its applications to the industry, through QMoss we want to underline active acknowledgement of the big picture: The second quantum revolution will soon have its implications to the everyday lives of most of us. Therefore it is becoming more and more important for people to have touch on this area of science and to make it more known and approachable. Quantum physics should be communicated to the general public as it will affect the future of communication, cryptography and even politics. What is more appropriate of an environment for the Quantum Moss installation than at the heart of leading Finnish research and academic education at Aalto University. 

Links to Moss articles:

    1. https://www.pnas.org/doi/full/10.1073/pnas.1604787113

    1. https://www.unep.org/news-and-stories/story/air-pollution-eating-moss-cleans-hotspots-europe